FreeCon 2015

I was lucky enough to be one of the people selected to attend FreeCon 2015 from PASS Summit and the experience was a very enlightening one that really challenged me with how I should move forward in my career.   Brent Ozar and Kendra Little did an amazing job putting this together and gathering a group of people who were all engaged, passionate about SQL Server and who were happy to share their experiences to help the group.   Because of this, I wanted to share a few of the key things that the FreeCon did for me.

  1.  Encouraged me to consider how I would want to brand myself within the SQL community.   A huge part of the FreeCon included thought-provoking discussion about the types of words that you feel describe you and the types of words that you feel make you stand out.    These are things that had never really occurred to me to even consider in the past and it was challenging to come up with words that made sense for me.  Being surrounded by SQL MVP’s, some of the more active members of the SQL community and some of the best minds in the SQL Server world really made that a challenge for me.   And frankly, it was humbling and a big part of why I chose to go with the humblesql name.
  2. Encouraged me to start blogging.   In the group discussions, one of the big things pointed out numerous times was the idea that there are already so many fantastic SQL bloggers.  However, in that same discussion nearly all of them said that we all have something to offer that community.   This was very encouraging to me, and frankly it made sense.   I can not ever recall going to a SQL Server session or reading a  blog from one of the many excellent SQL bloggers, where at the end I felt that I had gotten nothing.    There are obviously times when you get the life-changing experience and there are times where you just pull a nugget of information from information where you are already very well informed, but in all cases I feel like if I go into it with the right frame of mind that I will learn something new.   And if that is true, then there is no good reason why I should not blog as well, and potentially add a small amount of value to someone else.   So here we are.
  3. Time management!    The last point that I really want to discuss that I learned from the FreeCon was how to manage my time wisely.   One of the suggestions for those looking to blog or looking to speak or looking to be active in the SQL community (or any community really) was to make it a priority.  Brent gave a number of guidelines for how long it takes to build certain kinds of blogs, how long it takes to build certain types of sessions, etc…but the thing that stuck out the most was the concept of making it part of your calendar.   If you really do want to blog, set aside time to get that done on a weekly basis.   I am still in the process of making this work for myself, and there are struggles for me, but I feel like in just these first few weeks I have learned a great deal and hopefully am getting better.

For those who get the chance to attend one of these in the future, I highly recommend it.   For those of you that were there and shared this experience, I would love to know what your key takeaways were.

My Favorite SQL Bloggers

Since I am doing my best to be humble here, I figure for my first post I may as well point out a very clear reason why…all of the great bloggers in the SQL community.   I would like to list and bunch of my favorites, as I think these are all phenomenal and have just a world of information between them.  In no particular order:


Kimberly Tripp I am not sure there is anyone that knows performance tuning, indexing, statistics, etc… anywhere close to as well as Kimberly.   It was one of her all day pre-cons at Connections (before Intersection came to be) that really got me excited about SQL Server and her blog contains a world of phenomenal information.

Paul Randal – He wrote DBCC CheckDB, he knows the internals of the storage engine as well as anyone and he explains them in ways to make all of us understand how we can apply that information to our daily lives.

The Brent Ozar Team – Brent, Kendra, Jeremiah, Doug and Eric (as of this writing…they can always add more) all have a style of writing that brings a humor alongside of tremendous technical detail in a way that really no other SQL blogger does.   Their blogs and videos share insight into a number of aspects of SQL Server in ways that are easily adapted to our environments.

Midnight DBA – They show you how to be an Enterprise DBA and they do it with a humor that is like no other in the SQL community.   Go here, be a groupie.

SQL Performance – This is a site that is supported by SQL Sentry, that contains a number of the other bloggers on my list.   It has information at all levels and is full of great knowledge.

Grant Fritchey – The Scary DBA tells us a tremendous amount about a variety of things but some of the things that he speaks/blogs about that I have found incredibly insightful have been things dealing with Microsoft Azure SQL Database and some of the inner workings of the PASS board (as he is currently on that Board).  Great personality to go with that content.

Devin Knight – Most of the Pragmatic Works crew can give some great insights into BI in general, and what I have found great about Devin, in particular, are his insights into the Power Stack and its integration with Excel.   Easy to follow, step-by-step walkthroughs into using these tools are what I have found the absolute best about Devin.

Glenn Berry – No other blogger in the SQL Community writes about hardware anywhere close to the perspective that Glenn brings to us.    Questions about new processors and how they might work with a SQL Server?  This is your guy.   Couple that with his Diagnostic queries and this is one of the more valuable blogs out there, that I go to with regularity.

Jonathan Kehayias – He does a lot of things really well, but I am constantly going here when I am looking for information on Extended Events.   If he isn’t number 1 in that area of SQL Server, I can’t think of anyone who puts out that level of content.

Pinal Dave – If you have been working with SQL Server for any time at all, you have probably ended up on this page.  Pinal has a ton of content, is easy to digest and covers real world examples as well as any.   I find this page better than Books Online for a lot of things.

Thomas LaRock – A ton of great information about a variety of Enterprise DBA topics.  A fun person to read with great information to go with it.

Kevin Kline – Kevin has great content about SQL Server but what I appreciate about him the most are his insights into Professional Development.

Michael J. Swart –  Great content, but I think what makes him stand out the most is his artistic additions to his blog.   Obviously a multi-talented individual and fun to read because of it.

Rob Farley – Excellent content that is usually at a very high level.   He covers a variety of SQL topics and has a great perspective on professional development.   If you get a chance to watch him present, there are not many like him.

Brian Hansen – A close friend and a big help in inspiring me to get out there and blog as well.   He goes into great detail about a few topics but I think his Hekaton Concurrent Updates post is one of the better detailed Hekaton posts I have ever read.

Paul White – If you want to have your mind blown reading about the Optimizer, this is where you go.   No one covers it like Paul White.  He also writes for the SQL Performance site I noted above and he is a big part of why I love it as much as I do.

Aaron Bertrand – He has written for MSSQLTips and is another on the SQL Performance site and he covers a ton of things from performance to Service Broker.  One of my favorite posts of his that I still reference all the time is his take on the Merge Statement. And if you have ever asked a question on DBA Stackexchange there is a great chance that he has either answered or assisted with the answer of that question.


There are a ton more, and I may continue to modify this over time but these are all ones that have had a big impact on my career over the years.